Ambitious plans for school and leisure improvements in Morpeth

An artist impression of plans for King Edward VI High School (KEVI), Chantry and Newminster Middle Schools and Morpeth First School.

An artist impression of plans for King Edward VI High School (KEVI), Chantry and Newminster Middle Schools and Morpeth First School.

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Ambitious plans have been unveiled for a state-of-the-art school and leisure complex.

The plans are part of Northumberland County Council’s regeneration proposals for Morpeth, which could boost the local economy by millions of pounds.

The scheme would see new state-of-the-art school buildings developed on the same site as a new leisure centre – which would have the shared use of the public and students.

Northumberland County Council is producing outline plans for a multi-million pound development on the current County Hall site and is now seeking the views of parents, pupils, community groups and members of the public – to feed into a business case.

The current proposals centre on new buildings for King Edward VI High School (KEVI), Chantry and Newminster Middle Schools and Morpeth First School together with a new leisure centre and are subject to the agreement of the schools.

However, decisions would still need to be taken separately by the schools involved, the Foundation Governors of the KEVI site and the Council as to whether these proposals were feasible and provided the right educational solution for current and future pupils in Morpeth.

Initial estimates suggest a possible build cost of around £50m which could bring up to £189m into the local economy.

The council has been working with the headteachers of all the schools involved, and each has drafted an educational brief to feed into the project.

Coun Grant Davey, leader of Northumberland County Council said: “We are delighted to be able to announce ambitious proposals to develop new schools and leisure facilities in Morpeth.

“We want to see all pupils across Northumberland educated in modern, fit-for-purpose buildings with first-class amenities.

“We also want to improve local leisure facilities, and these proposals have provided us with an excellent opportunity to build new leisure centres for the benefit of the whole community. We hope that people will look at the plans and let us know their views.”

Feasibility plans and costs are being developed into an outline business case that will be considered by county councillors in early 2016, after a decision on the County Hall move.

The final decision on County Hall’s future will be taken by full council on December 2.

Coun Davey added: “The County Hall proposals are part of a much wider picture. In these difficult economic times it’s crucial we make best use of our assets in all town centres as a lever for growth.

“A move to a smaller HQ in Ashington, over 25 years would save the authority over £13m compared to staying at the Morpeth site and not doing anything.

“That saving of around £540,000 a year may not in itself sound much but more importantly a move would enable Morpeth to continue to be a popular place with the potential of first class leisure and education facilities. At the same time the move would give a much needed boost in confidence and focus for investment in Ashington.

“Both projects form part of an integrated suite of investment being led or supported by the Council to transform our town centres, attract new jobs and accelerate the development of new infrastructure and quality housing.”

The plans will be on show at the Corn Exchange, Morpeth, on Monday, November 9, from 2pm to 7pm.